Relating to Evidence

House Bill 1376 has been passed out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor last week and has been scheduled for third reading later this week. Its description makes the purpose of the bill clear:

Extends the limited news media privilege against the compelled disclosure of sources and unpublished information to 6/30/2013. Reporting requirements for the judiciary. Effective 6/29/2011. (SD1)

Rather than removing the sunset permanently, as the bill was originally drafted, the JDL Committee chose, instead, to simply extend two years the existing sunset date of Act 210, SLH 2008. The committee also amended the bill,

Requiring the Judiciary, through its Standing Committee on Rules of Evidence, to report to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session 2010, information and recommendations regarding Act 2010, Session Laws of Hawaii 2008.

The continued existence of this law is important, because it allows journalists to engage in investigative journalism without fear of compulsion by the courts, or legislature, to divulge sources or unpublished information. A free, open, and independent media is a crucial part of a democratic society and the extension of Act 210 will help ensure important investigative journalism can continue in Hawaii.

Please call your State Senator and ask them to support HB1376 SD1.